November 22, 2012 - Giving Thanks
By James Meredith
It’s year 14 of dealing with cancer in our family.
To be honest, I’m struck by the lump that formed in my throat as I typed that sentence. In 1998, my wife, Janice, endured advanced thyroid cancer. Extensive surgery was followed by large doses of radioactive iodine to clear the cancer from her lungs. In the ensuing years, there have been multiple tests, scans and evaluations. Over the past few months, we have dealt with what appeared to be a bit of a relapse, as the cancer marker in her blood rose yet again. And, once again, it has stabilized, bringing great joy and relief.
Janice has endured much over these past years. And the battle goes on. Yet I always reflect on something she said at the very beginning, when the diagnosis was first delivered. So many of our friends and family joined in prayer, and we are so thankful for each of them. Yet some were a bit surprised when she announced, “I really feel this is something God is allowing me to go through, so that perhaps I can help others along the way.”
It’s a dichotomy we too often miss in the Christian life. Sometimes God delivers us from trouble; sometimes He guides us through trouble, providing grace and strength all along the way.
We’re told in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. It’s in the darkest moments of our lives that the grace, care and compassion of our Lord shine the brightest.
Over the past 14 years, circumstances have called Janice and I to trust Him in ways we never could have imagined if cancer had not entered the picture. And she has, indeed, used the strength and wisdom she’s gained to help others traveling the same road. Looking back, it seems peculiar that prayer for illness so often focuses primarily on the notion that, “If only we believe enough, any kind of miraculous healing is possible.” While we firmly believe in prayer for healing, in obedience to James 5:14, we also defer to God’s timing, and trust in His yet-unseen plans.
Today, Janice’s faith is strong, not because a healing came, but because God has so faithfully seen her through the struggles.
If you’re facing a particularly difficult battle today, remember: Faith that’s strong isn’t necessarily faith that brings the desired results. Rather, it is faith that endures — clinging stubbornly to the Savior, even as the trial rages on. Then you, too, may be surprised at the marvelous plans God has for your life and the reasons for Thanksgiving He will create in you.
— James Meredith is technical editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at The Next Mile (jmeredith.agblogger.org).